With everyone’s attention focused on Apple’s upcoming iPad 3 announcement, Digitimes has a report claiming that a 7.85-inch iPad may also be in the works as Apple angles to prevent smaller and cheaper tablets like the Kindle Fire from gaining any traction.
Makers in Apple’s iPad supply chain have started delivering samples of 7.85-inch iPads for verification, with volume production likely to begin in the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest, according to industry sources.
The planned launch of the 7.85-inch iPad is apparently to take on Amazon’s US$199 7-inch Kindle Fire as well as a comparable model from Barnes & Noble, although Apple already took up nearly a 60% share of the tablet PC market in 2011, indicated the sources.
This of course comes hot on the heels of a previous report claiming that Apple is planning to release a cheaper 8GB iPad 2 model alongside the iPad 3, presumably at a $399 pricepoint. As for the rumored 7.85-inch iPad, it will reportedly be priced in the $249-$299 range which, if true, prompts one to wonder what type of capacity we’ll be dealing with given that Apple’s current iPod Touch lineup reaches into the upper $300 range.
One thing’s for certain, though. If a smaller form factor iPad is indeed in the pipeline, competing tablet manufacturers will be dead in the water, save perhaps for the Kindle Fire which has performed reasonably well in light of Amazon successfully leveraging their wildly popular homepage to move more units. Customer satisfaction with the device, however, is reputably quite poor.